Gratitude and Disappointment
Back when Facebook first started I made a gratitude post almost every Thanksgiving. I love seeing them pop up in the memories feature and being reminded of where I was finding pockets of joy over all those years.
I stopped sharing in such a personal way quite a while ago on social media. It’s hard to draw a line between “personal” and “professional” social media now - to me, it all feels public.
I have become more open with what I share, but with more parameters and boundaries. I will share openly about my experiences in my career and the ways that my personal life and work life come together, but now I prefer to keep detailed of my personal life much more to myself.
Seeing all my old gratitude posts in my memories on social media this week made me feel a little nostalgic. As I’ve gotten older, I think I have a less blindly optimistic perspective. As we age we experience so many joyful events, but we are also subject to more sadness, loss, and difficult situations. But I don’t feel less happy by any means. In fact, I think that the broader experience of life has left me generally more satisfied and fulfilled.
There is an article that I read when I was in college, and although I don’t remember where I read it I think of it often. It said something to the effect that the culture in the United States is one of the only ones that emphasizes that we should be happy all the time and avoid sadness and disappointment at all costs. Other cultures believe that happiness is only one part of the full experience of life, which should also include sadness, disappointment, and other undesirable and desirable emotions.
I’ve tried to carry this idea with me since then, that all the emotions we experience are necessary parts of our lives. As I develop a meditation practice and dive deeper into yoga, that same concept comes up in these ancient practices.
When I think about thankfulness this holiday season, I can see how both the best and worst parts of my year have played into the immense amount of gratitude I am able to feel this holiday season.
I started new jobs this year that are the culmination of hard work and a commitment to right effort toward the concepts and activities that I feel drawn to. I’m being challenged to step into a better version of myself in these positions, and to release the things and positions I have outgrown. It is both gratifying and exciting to feel that I am at a stepping off point for a new stage of my professional life.
On the other end of the spectrum, we lost a family member to cancer this year. It was an intense experience that spanned just under six months from diagnosis. We have spent very few weekends at home and a lot of time traveling. It left much of the time we did spend at home feeling less than productive and fairly disheveled.
But even embedded in this loss and deep rooted sadness, there is gratitude. We spent more time with family than we ever would have otherwise, we have talked about difficult emotions and losses, and we have a new appreciation for our time together and each other. All of these things are positive, although it is grief and loss that brought them about.
Considering all of these events and emotions, I realized that what I am most grateful for this holiday season is perspective. I am grateful to understand that all of the events we experience are important to the full scope of our lives. I am grateful that as we age and continue to grow our life view grows with us.
Of course I wish that my whole family was together this Thanksgiving without illness and loss, but I am still sitting with deep gratitude for what we do have.
I hope that if your year has included something good or something bad, or more likely if it has included both, that you can find some gratitude through your perspective this holiday season. Gratitude in your ability to feel both happiness and sadness, and to make the most of all the experiences of your life.
Wishing you peace, joy and gratitude this Thanksgiving and always.
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Hi, I'm Morgann! Flutist, teacher, aspiring yogini, and life long learner figuring out how to create my way through life one crazy idea at a time.